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Topic: Labels (01/05/04)
TITLE: Label Makers
By Mary Elder-Criss
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by: Mary Elder-Criss
When I was a child, I remember owning a label-maker. Now, for those of you who are not quite as archaic as I am, a label-maker was a nifty little invention. It featured raised letters, numbers, and symbols on top. When tape was fed into the gadget, you simply squeezed a handle and imprinted the tape with whatever words were desired. Meant to identify possessions, we, as children used them to mark our books, lunchboxes, and such for school. We also used them to imprint our favorite sayings, slogans, and mottoes onto our notebooks, lockers, etc. The letters would show up white against whatever color background of tape we used.
Today, we have more sophisticated means of creating labels. Almost every home has a personal computer these days, and many programs are available to create and design stickers, labels, letterheads, and envelopes. Labels are useful. Labels help us to identify. They classify and inform. Labels analyze, distinguish, describe, catalog, name, mark, and warn.
Sometimes, labels exaggerate, as well. Many times, I have bought a product based on the label’s promises, only to be disappointed in the actual item, itself. I suppose it is all part of the game in advertising, and merchandising. A catchy slogan or impressive packaging often influences our decisions on which item to purchase, regardless of its beneficial uses. Sometimes an item with a simpler package is just as, if not more, suited to getting the job done.
Many times, we make the mistake of labeling people like we would certain products. Jesus, Himself, was labeled. Being the son of a simple carpenter branded Him as someone who could not possibly be the longed for Messiah. “Is this not Joseph’s son?” (Luke 4:22) Although the hearers in the synagogue first marveled at Christ’s words, this was soon overridden by skepticism since His hearers knew His earthly origin. (see Luke 4:28-30) “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” (John 1:46)
Oftentimes, we are guilty of looking at people and reaching for our handy label-makers. We perceive with our senses, instead of our hearts. Suppose two people approach you to bring a message. One is well dressed, and well groomed, authoritative in manner, and masterful in the spoken word. The other is a little on the scruffy side, wearing jeans with holes in the knees, needing a haircut and shave, and speaks in a manner that is quiet and unassuming. Which one of these two will you instantly label as being worthy of your trust, and more believable of the pair? Most people will immediately designate the first person as being credible, simply because of the outer packaging.
However, as I mentioned earlier, appearances can be deceiving. The higher priced product which bore the flashy label did not work nearly as well as the simpler packaged brand did.
Today, before you let your senses lead you, remember this important word from 1st Samuel 16: 7. “For the Lord does not see as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
Do not be too quick to label based on what you can see outwardly, but instead, take the time to look beneath the surface. Remember that God could very well see key ingredients that you miss at first glance. It could be that product (or person) which our senses deem unimpressive, might actually be the better choice for the job.